Written by Jessica B. Hill


A co-production with Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival Inc.


June 15 – July 2 | 2023


The Dark Lady, directed by SIR’s Rodrigo Beilfuss, is a dynamic, sensual and witty duet that dismantles our conventional views on Shakespeare through the perspective of a dark-skinned contemporary of his, poetess Emilia Bassano – the possible ‘dark lady’ that appears in his sonnets.  

Bassano was trilingual, multiracial, a talented musician and the first Englishwoman to publish her own poetry. In the play, these two poets come intimately together in a complex love story about artistic collaboration, desire, and ambition. Stratford’s Jessica B. Hill, who delighted Winnipeg audiences in the Winter of 2022 with her solo piece PANDORA, is Emilia Bassano, while Winnipeg’s Eric Blais had the peculiar honour of being William Shakespeare. The score was arranged and performed live by Spanish/Classical guitarist George Bajer-Koulack.

4.5 stars, The Winnipeg Free Press: “Hill’s spirited, snappy dialogue cracks like a whip…”

“The Dark Lady is absolutely immersive…when Bassano says ‘I want to get so good, they can’t say no’, it’s a rallying cry for all creatives working from the margins…with this world-premiere, Hill is making her own indelible mark on the Canadian theatre scene.” – The Saskatoon Star Phoenix 

“A Masterclass in what theatre-in-the-round can and should be…a powerful exploration of love, loss and legacy…” – Podsask 


Performed at The Ruins @ Trappist Monastery Provincial Heritage Park

The Dark Lady Program

2023 The Dark Lady Program

Photography by Leif Norman.

Playwright and performer Jessica B. Hill and Dr. Katrina Dunn ( UofM Faculty of English, Theatre, Film & Media) take a deep dive into The Dark Lady’s creation process, and inspiration, poet and writer Emilia Bassano.

Playwright Jessica B. Hill and director Rodrigo Beilfuss discuss the creation of the play and provide insight into Emilia Bassano, the closest contender for “the Dark Lady of the Sonnets.”


Jessica B. Hill  Emilia Bassano 

Eric Blais  William Shakespeare 

George Bajer-Koulack Musician 


Artistic & Technical Team

Rodrigo Beilfuss / Director
Jessica B. Hill / Playwright
Emma Welham / Assistant Director
Daina Leitold / Set & Props Design
Brenda McLean/ Costume Design
George Bajer – Koulack / Music Director
Evan King / Production Manager & Running Crew
Cari Simpson / Technical Director
Paige Lewis / Stage Manager
TL Kosinski / Props & Set Coordinator
Claire Sparling / Cutter & Costume Builder
Myren Mallory Philpot / Wardrobe Assistant


Dramaturgical support by the Manitoba Association of Playwrights (MAP)

Special thanks to Here For Now Theatre, Kate Hennig, Bob White, Rylan Wilkie and the Stratford Festival